Evgeny Lebedev

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Evgeny Alexandrovich Lebedev (Russian: Евгений Александрович Лебедев, pronounced [jɪvˈɡʲenʲɪj ˈlʲebʲɪdʲɪv]; born 8 May 1980) is a Russian-British businessman, who is the owner of Lebedev Holdings Ltd, which owns the Evening Standard, The Independent and the TV channel London Live.

Evgeny Lebedev
DEB4723.a.jpeg
Lebedev in 2015
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
Awaiting appointment
Life peerage
Personal details
Born
Evgeny Alexandrovich Lebedev

(1980-05-08) 8 May 1980 (age 40)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
NationalityRussian, British
ParentsAlexander Lebedev
Natalia Sokolova
RelativesVladimir Sokolov (grandfather)
ResidenceLondon, England
EducationHolland Park School
Mill Hill School

In 2020, Lebedev was nominated for a life peerage by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his services to the British media industry and philanthropic work, including in wildlife conservation.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Moscow, Lebedev is the son of Alexander Lebedev, a part-owner of the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and former spy for the KGB and later its successor the FSB, and his first wife Natalia Sokolova. He moved to London at the age of eight, when his father began working for the KGB.

Lebedev attended St Barnabas and St Philip's Church of England Primary School in Kensington, followed by Holland Park comprehensive and Mill Hill boarding school. He then went on to study the history of art at Christie's in London. He has lived in the UK ever since, and became a British citizen (with dual nationality) in 2010.[3][4]

His maternal grandfather Vladimir Sokolov was a scientist, and a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, later the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Media interests[edit]

On 21 January 2009, Evgeny and his father bought a 65% share in the Evening Standard newspaper.[5] The previous owners, Daily Mail and General Trust plc, continue to hold 24.9% of the company.[6] Under the Lebedevs' ownership, it became a free newspaper in October 2009; circulation tripled immediately to 700,000.[7]

On 25 March 2010, just weeks before it was due to close, Lebedev bought The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. On 26 October, the i newspaper was launched, the first national daily newspaper to be launched in the UK since The Independent in 1986, at a time of falling newspaper circulations and title closures worldwide.[8] In 2011, he launched The Journalism Foundation, to promote "free and independent journalism throughout the world", although it was closed down after a year.[9]

In February 2016, it was announced that Independent Press Ltd had reached an agreement to sell the i to Johnston Press, and that The Independent would become digital-only from March 2016.[10] In December 2019, Comscore, an American media analytics company, released figures that showed that The Independent had overtaken The Guardian in unique visitors for the previous month for the first time.[11]

In 2019, it was reported that Lebedev sold a 30% stake in the publications to a private Saudi investor. After a second regulator concluded no investigation was necessary, Ofcom judged that the sale had not led to “any influence” on the news outlets controlled by the British-Russian businessman.[12][13]

International journalism[edit]

Lebedev travels widely as a journalist and has interviewed global leaders including Hamid Karzai, Ismail Haniyeh, Mikhail Gorbachev and Alexander Lukashenko.

In 2013, he interviewed the Ku Klux Klan at their Arkansas headquarters, while in 2014 he investigated the drug wars in Mexico.[14] In 2015, he visited Gabon, to write on the fate of the African forest elephant. These projects and others have produced a series of articles and broadcasts in Vanity Fair, the New Statesman, GQ, Vogue, The Guardian, the BBC and elsewhere.

Charity work[edit]

Lebedev is the patron of the Evening Standard's Dispossessed Fund, which helps to address poverty in London, and has raised over £13m since its launch in 2010.[15] In 2018, he launched #AIDSFree, a cross-title campaign between The Independent and Evening Standard to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[16] In 2019, he announced that both newspapers' would launch a multiple-year campaign to tackle homelessness in London and around the world.[17]

Since the coronavirus lockdown began in the United Kingdom, Lebedev's news titles appealed in partnership with food surplus charity The Felix Project to supply food to vulnerable people, frontline charities and NHS hospitals.[18][19]

Other business interests[edit]

Lebedev co-owns The Grapes, a riverside pub in Limehouse, London, with Sir Ian McKellen and Sean Mathias,[20] and he purchased the Château Gütsch in Lucerne, Switzerland in 2012, before turning it into a luxury hotel-restaurant.[21]

Personal life[edit]

According to The Daily Telegraph, Lebedev previously dated British actress Joely Richardson.[22]

Lebedev collects modern British art, and owns pieces by Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Jake and Dinos Chapman.[23] According to the New Statesman, he also has a wide knowledge of Renaissance art and vorticist poetry. [24] He had a pet wolf called Boris, named after the former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.[25]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Woodcork, Andrew (31 July 2020). "The Independent's Evgeny Lebedev awarded peerage by PM". The Independent. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  2. ^ Courea, Eleni; Maguire, Patrick; O'Neill, Sean (31 July 2020). "Evgeny Lebedev: Son of KGB agent handed a seat in the Lords". The Times. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  3. ^ Gray, Freddy (26 September 2015). "The strange world of Evgeny Lebedev". The Spectator. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  4. ^ Aspden, Peter (20 November 2019). "Lunch with the FT: Evgeny Lebedev". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  5. ^ Andrew Cave (2 July 2009). "Evgeny Lebedev spells out his vision for the Evening Standard". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  6. ^ O'Carroll, Tristan. "DMGT confirms Standard to be sold to Lebedev". MediaWeek.
  7. ^ Stephen Brook (15 January 2010). "ABCs: Free London Evening Standard breaks through 600,000 barrier". The Guardian.
  8. ^ "Lebedev family buys Independent in deal to secure paper's future" Archived 27 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine, London Evening Standard website
  9. ^ Greenslade, Roy (10 February 2012). "Journalism Foundation gets its first project off the ground". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  10. ^ "The Independent will become the first national newspaper to go digital-only". The Independent. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  11. ^ Twitter, Freddy Mayhew (23 December 2019). "Comscore: Independent overtakes Guardian for unique visitors in November". Press Gazette.
  12. ^ "Government ends probe of Evening Standard stake sale". Financial Times. 16 September 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  13. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (16 September 2019). "Independent and Standard 'vindicated' by Ofcom report into Saudi investor deals, says owner". Press Gazette.
  14. ^ Lebedev, Evgeny. "Tale of a city: See, hear, taste, touch". New Statesman. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  15. ^ "Comic Relief gives the Evening Standard's Dispossessed Fund a £1m". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Our Aids appeal has changed attitudes and helped challenge 30 years of stigma #AIDSfree". The Independent. 1 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Join our campaign working towards a future where no one has to worry about where they will sleep tonight #TheHomelessFund". The Independent. 20 November 2019.
  18. ^ "It's the challenge of our lifetime — let's unite to feed London". Evening Standard. 27 March 2020. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Almost there! £7.5m to help feed the hungry". Evening Standard. 10 July 2020. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  20. ^ "The Grapes, Limehouse. Spanning 500 years of history". www.thegrapes.co.uk. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  21. ^ Doak, Alex (12 January 2015). "Chateau Gütsch: Journey to Lucerne, the ticking heart of watchmaking". City A.M. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  22. ^ Williams, Sally (4 October 2015). "Joely Richardson interview: 'Work saved me from my grief'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  23. ^ Sunyer, John (2 April 2015). "Evgeny Lebedev, Britain's youngest newspaper proprietor". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  24. ^ Elmhirst, Sophie (1 July 2011). "Oligarch, reinvented". New Statesman. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  25. ^ Hatterstone, Simon (4 May 2012). "Evgeny Lebedev: Don't call me an oligarch". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 February 2016.